When Patrick Norris returns home after being discharged from the Marines, he finds the family avocado farm devastated by a recent wildfire. His older brother Ted still lives at home and is kind of a loser. How can Pat help his family when he's still adjusting to life away from Afganistan?
I got this ARC from Netgalley.
I've seen T. Jefferson Parker novels on bookstore shelves for years, right after Robert B. Parker. I don't know what I expected from T-Jeff, as I now call him, but it wasn't this.
I'd thought T-Jeff was a crime writer but this felt more like general fiction with a few crime elements. I expected a mystery around who set the wildfire but it was barely touched upon. The bigger story was the contrast between Pat and Ted, the Norris brothers.
I felt sorry for Ted. He tried as hard as he could to please his father and generally fit in but was socially inept and had bad feet and a history of drug abuse. Plus he had a pet tarantula. Since I had one for a brief time when I was a young teen, I felt some kinship for him. Pat seemed like a good guy but I sure wouldn't go drinking with him. He's really keyed up from life in the marines and can't seem to relax. Alcohol does NOT help.
The story wasn't what I expected but I still found it interesting. There was the mystery behind what Lucinda's deal with and what messed up thing Ted would do to prove himself. For me, the biggest mystery of the book was why Iris would put up with Pat's crap. She saw him beat the dog shit out of some guy and he and some of his ex-marine pals got tanked and trashed her place.
Besides Pat and Ted, I found the rest of the Norris family interesting, even when I didn't agree with them. The final scene of the book was my favorite part and I was worried a specific character wouldn't survive. I was pleased at how it turned out.
Final random thought:
Avocado farming seems like a hard life. Did you know it takes years and years for an avocado tree to bear fruit?
Three out of five stars. I think one of T-Jeff's Charlie Hood books would have been a better choice to bust my cherry with.